A Crash Course in Film: Part One


Film photography lives! Prices have gone up and the availability certainly isn’t what it used to be, but it’s still here. That may surprise a lot of people, but it makes a lot of sense to me. Just like vinyl never truly disappeared, film is sticking around. In my opinion, it has been re-born to a generation of youth that have never experienced anything other than digital photography.

Expired drugstore brand 200 ISO, 35mm

This rebirth is happening on two levels. First, in a hand-me-down SLR, the second, in the popularity of cameras like the Holga, Diana or the Lomo. These cameras exaggerate the unpredictability of shooting with film that digital photography often lacks. Whether you're shooting with your K-1000 or your fisheye Lomo, there are a few things you might want to know, like what film speed is all about, or what type of film to use. 

Ilford XP2 Super 400 ISO B/W (color process) 120mm

Film speed describes the sensitivity of the film, with 400 being more sensitive to light then 100. The film speed will determine what aperture and shutter speed you should use. It’s a good idea to consider what you’ll be shooting when you are deciding what film to buy. For instance, if you’ll be shooting indoors, in low light situations. 100 ISO film will force you to use a wide aperture and longer shutter speeds and therefore you might have trouble getting sharp images.  400-speed film is more flexible because the film is more sensitive to the light, therefore you’ll have more control over your aperture and shutter speed. 

Ilford HP5 400 ISO B/W, 35mm

Film comes in lots of different sizes that can fit into three categories, small format, medium format and large format. Sadly many formats have disappeared over the years, the two most popular are 35mm

and 120mm.

Kodak Portra 400 ISO, 35mm 

In my next blog, I’ll show examples of some less commonly used film, such as 50 ISO film, great for long exposures, and 3200 ISO film, ideal for capturing high speed movement. My brother lent me his Holga

recently, so  I'll have a photo or two from that to share. 

Kodak Ektar 100, 35mm